Culture

The Japanese bridge in the center of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the central coast of Vietnam by Christian Berg Take me there

Vietnam derives its rich cultural heritage from thousands of years of history and a host of outside influences. Archeologists have unearthed evidence of an advanced civilisation here as far back as the 3rd century BC. The hallmarks of French-Colonialism, ranging from gracefully ageing old mansions to culinary touches, are still scattered from north to south. Yet while Vietnam’s intricate traditions may have evolved out of its multifaceted past, its resulting present-day identity is very much its own. After all, this is a place where Chinese Taoism and Confucianism are still of utmost importance, where some of the best French baguettes come piled high with unmistakably Southeast Asian pickles, cured meats and chile-spiked condiments, and where 54 ethnic minorities with varied customs exist in relative harmony.

Travellers looking to dive deeper into Vietnamese culture will find all sorts of opportunities to do so. The country features eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including five cultural sites ranging from the winding streets of Hội An’s historic quarter to the ancient monuments at the heart of the former imperial capital of Hué. Many of these sites are in excellent condition, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the wonders of another time. Those seeking to uncover contemporary Vietnamese culture may wish to try a homestay with a local tribe or visit during any of the dozens of colourful festivals littered throughout the calendar year. See what a new generation of Vietnamese artists are up to in boundary-pushing contemporary galleries from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City.

Compelling as these attractions may be, travellers may find some their most meaningful memories are made at unexpected moments. Simply strolling through the evocative streets of Hanoi or along the promenade of the Saigon River of Ho Chi Minh City and soaking up the intoxicating atmosphere offers a taste of this land’s vastly complex culture.

Culture